When you experience a spousal abuse in a church setting, it is confusing, you’re torn between answered prayers and the abuse and chances are that you’ll stick on, pray some more and be gracious some more…
The day is 16th June 2019, just like today, but it was a Sunday. We walked into church looking like newlyweds but with our children leading the way. He puts his hand on my back as though he is protecting me from the world and its cares. The sub theme for the 2nd quarter in our church was REVIVE.
The previous day I had dragged him to a meeting in the same church that was meant for parents. The topic was INTENTIONAL PARENTING; with sub topics as sexuality, substance abuse and mental health. It was actually his first time visiting my church, ladies wowed at us, and I kept saying “meet my husband”
….meet my husband” on end. “Wow Emily at last” My groupies even suggested a wedding in the near future. I was all smiles that Saturday, “you people look good together….” and he kept smiling handsomely and bowing to the older ladies who had loved and prayed me through the years of his absence. …. “Oooh Emily am so happy for you” Since the meeting was to start at 9, earlier we first met our counselor and had a session. I was in a cream dress paired with black boots that Saturday morning, I knew I looked all beautiful, though he didn’t say, he is a man of few words. I was happy or so I thought.
Back to Sunday service, I sat through the service, I grasped nothing. The children are happy, they’re even snacking and I don’t give them the mama look, their dad has come to church with them for the first time. We had yearned for such a day, a “complete family” in church. Yaani kumbe it’s true that Emily has been married all along. That Sunday I had proof. Am soaked in tears, my whole body is chilled, I couldn’t stop crying the praises and prayers cheered me on. He kept poking me to stop crying someone might notice. I was overwhelmed.
Saturday night we had gone to bed all chatty and warm. Then we kept talking. Then he asked why I said what I said in the counseling room. Of course I didn’t take it thaaaat serious, I stretched to the side table to show him the evidence; my reason for saying what I said-a WhatsApp message sent in Oct 2018. I hear women have chunks of files. And I was showing him already, like very close to his eyes. Then all of a sudden his hands were on my neck and he is pinning me to the wall. Fear, terror and darkness…I feel like am almost gone but still breathing. Then he lets me loose and off am escaping from the bed and immediately his hand on my neck again and this time round he says, “I can do worse than this”. He let’s go and I can still feel his hands on my neck till a week later. Am shook, I take my phone and text a lady from church, but it’s midnight. I want to call my mother and he says “what will your mother do? Your own mother was battered by your father…..”
That night I didn’t even squeak no sound escaped through my lungs. I was scared on alerting the children, the house help and again the neighbors. I lay down in terror, waiting for the break of dawn. I didn’t sleep that night, but I had to go to church, I wanted an escape. I wanted safety.
I don’t know what message was preached that Sunday. He enjoyed himself, it was father’s day and they were celebrated, there were gifts for them, yes. And then he was a first time visitor so there was a special tent for him and others, he walked to the front in his dapper blue blazer like the ground is hot, and he was hooot that day.
I had stayed in that church for like 5 years and that day those who saw me with him at the tent were like ” wow Emily am so glad, God is great, this good news….” in his absence during those years it was comforting to say things like ” My name is Emily and am married and my husband is out of the country for work….” My conversations were seasoned with him; you met him first as the aroma then the main meal later. Since belonging in marriage care groups was quite a task with a way husband, I had more of single girlfriends; I actually used my husband as the marking scheme whenever they would bring their jamaaz for intros. I did chock them with my man, I worshipped him. You met him first then me even in his absence. When he came back even my son bragged to his friends in my hearing ” huwa mnasema sina baba, mumeona babangu”?
Then at the tent I saw my friend, I ran to her, fell on her bosom and cried, I wanted her to take me home with her, I wanted to stay with her there and then, she held me for a while and told me “it is well” but I didn’t want to go home. It wasn’t well.
We left church compound and I switched on my pretense mode and said “It’s father’s day, let’s take daddy to KFC”. I dishonored my pain went to KFC at Junction, sat there and told my children to tell daddy he is the best dad in the world as they sunk their teeth into the crunchy chicken pieces.
I was never the same after that incident.
I went home, but stayed around the kitchen and bathroom area.
I reported to work on Monday, my other friend who was a colleague then noticed I wasn’t ok, she asked and I cried a river on her shoulders. I know she could dishonor protocols for my sake with my “ng’wee” I was safer when with her in the office, but I had to go home each evening. I only managed to work Monday and Tuesday that week, I took 3 days leave to sort the mess I was in but instead I took Mister to check out a shop for a business we had in mind for all those 3 days.
When asked why he did it, he said “If I would have strangled her, she would have died”. Then when we’re the two of us he told me “wewe hujawai chapwa, the day utachapwa ndio utasema” He had said sorry to appease the 3rd party.
The fear escalated since that day. Nothing touches my neck, not even my children, I get cold chills. I can’t wear those things they call chockers.
This 16th June 2019 incident, invited 30th July 2019 that later invited 6th July 2020 but the last one.
The trauma, the terror, and the pain no amount of a distant “it is well” heals it.
But the Balm of Gilead.